– C. Monster [SCENE: The Oreo marketing team is meeting at 4:20 last Friday afternoon in some Herman Miller-infested conference room. Ted, the veteran marketing director, speaks first.]
“Okay, everyone. Great work on the creme sculpture project for the Super Bowl. This idea really looks like a winner, and you all should be proud of yourselves. I know I am. As it’s just about 4:30, I think we can wrap this puppy up and put her to bed. Let’s all cut out a few minutes early and get a head start on the weekend traffic and – uhh, yes, Jen? You look like you want to say something.”
“Yeah, I do, Ted.”
“Is it about the creme project?”
“Is it about something related to the creme project?”
“Umm, no, not really.”
“Is it about anything having to do with anything that’s printed on the meeting agenda I sent out two days ago that is sitting in front of you right now?”
“But that’s what we’re talking about, Jen. You know the rules. Either you’re on topic or you’re off. And there’s nothing else on the agenda except the creme project, so if you’re not going to say anything about the creme project, then you’re off topic and, ipso facto, not allowed to bring it up. That’s Management Efficiency 101, Jen.”
“Well, yes, I know that, Ted. But I’ve been thinking about something.”
“Jen, I think we all would love to hear your idea… on Monday, but right now is not the time to…”
“But I think it could be really, really important, Ted. And I think it could make us look really good in front of the executive team.”
“I’m sure it is, Jen. But if we leave now – when all of our work for the week has been finished – we can beat some of the traffic out of the city and get a jump on Sunday afternoon.”
“Well, you see, Ted, I’ve been watching film from the last several Super Bowls, and I noticed something.”
“This better be good, Jen…”
“Well, you see, it’s like this. The power went out before a game a couple of years back, and I think there have been some other glitches before, too. And, you know, with it being in New Orleans a week before Mardi Gras and all… well, I was just thinking something like that could happen again. And if it does, I think we should have something ready to go.”
“Jen, what the hell are you blabbering about?”
“Look, I’m thinking if we have an image or an ad or, or – well, something good that we can push out there just in case there’s a, oh, I don’t know, like a half-hour delay in the game, we could hit a home run.”
“Jen, they play football in the Super Bowl, not baseball.”
“No, seriously, Ted. Why don’t we have something in the can that we can post on our Twitter and Facebook feeds during the outage? There’s no doubt folks will be on their phones and laptops during the game, especially if there’s a delay.”
“You’re a nut case, Jen. But hey, if you want to waste your weekend coming up with something for when there’s a power outage at the most popular sporting event on the planet that’s planned a year in advance by hundreds, if not thousands, of the best engineers, planners and specialists, go for it. As for me, I’ve got better things to do. Speaking of which, hey, everyone, I really feel a sore throat coming on. I’m afraid I’m gonna have to call in sick Monday morning.”
Within minutes of the blackout at the Superdome, someone on the Oreo marketing team posted the photo above with the tag, “Power out? No problem.” Four simple words that should go down in Super Bowl advertising history alongside Apple’s “1984,” Coke’s “Mean Joe Green,” and Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” and Budweiser’s “9.11” spot.
This is the reality of today’s marketing world. Time is in such short supply these daze (!) that you must “preact” if you want to be able to “react.” Preacting demands that you be prepared to act. And not just in a loose sense. Either you anticipate what could happen in the future – good and bad – and prepare communication strategies, tactics and materials (like Jen) or you don’t (Ted). It’s clear that the folks at Oreo and its agency were ready to respond to a crisis AND an opportunity in seconds.
It’s sorta like the difference between keeping your job/client or not.
UPDATE AT 2:30 P.M.: Buzzfeed posted this story night explaining how the Oreo ad came about. Kudos to both the Oreo brand team and their agency, 360i. And here’s the story from the 360i blog; note the sentence that reads, “You need a brave brand to approve content that quickly. When all of the stakeholders come together so quickly, you’ve got magic…”